D1 Council Candidates Quarrel on Rent Control, Prop. 15 - Voice of San Diego

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D1 Council Candidates Quarrel on Rent Control, Prop. 15

The candidates for the San Diego City Council District 1 seat had a salty exchange about rent control at a recent debate.

Joe LaCava is running for the San Diego City Council. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

This post originally appeared in the Sept. 19 Politics Report newsletter. Get the Politics Report delivered to your inbox.

It’s always pretty fun for us to go through the transcripts of the U-T editorial board’s interviews with candidates. This year, they did Zoom debates instead, or joint interviews with both candidates in several races. You can see the videos here. Let us know if anything sticks out.

One of the more interesting ones was San Diego City Council District 1, the race between Democrats Joe LaCava and Will Moore.

They had a salty exchange about rent control.

“I’m not in support of rent control, it has been proven to actually be counterproductive. I have talked about being supportive of rent stabilization,” LaCava said. (By rent stabilization, he means a cap on how much landlords can raise rents any given year.)

But Moore immediately pointed out that LaCava had supported Proposition 10, the 2018 initiative that would have allowed cities across California to implement rent control.

“I’m glad Joe has come around to what I think is the correct opinion. But I wish he had been here the whole campaign,” Moore said.

LaCava said he did not support Proposition 10. The U-T panel moved on.

I called LaCava to follow up on whether that was true – that he had not supported Proposition 10. He said no, it wasn’t. He had supported Proposition 10 and he told me he sent a note to the Union-Tribune to clarify his position.

He said that while he supported Proposition 10, he is still against rent control. He said he wanted to let cities have the option if they wanted it.

“It’s just fundamentally how I think. You ought to have all the options on the table and not be afraid to look at everything even if you discard it.

Property Taxes and Proposition 15

On the November ballot is a measure that, if approved, would allow local governments to appraise commercial properties at their market value and thus charge the property tax to a much higher valuation (and raise the tax). The measure has several exemptions (no residences of any kind would be included and there’s exemptions for a certain level of value).

Turns out Moore, who is kind of the business candidate, endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce, supports the measure. And LaCava does not.

But even with that, Moore called out LaCava. He told the San Diego Association of Realtors that he supported “split roll,” as the issue is called. It was part of their questionnaire. Split-roll refers to the long pursued (and now almost realized) effort to remove commercial properties (think hotels and shopping centers) from the regular property tax law and thus separate from protections on valuations that homeowners enjoy.

Since 1978, the valuation of a property can only be re-assessed if the property changes hands. So people who have kept the same houses have not seen more than a 1 percent increase in their valuation since then. For many people that means they pay a far lower annual property tax bill than neighbors who bought later.

LaCava now says he was confused by that wording “split roll.” He supported that, again, as an option to consider. But he opposes the actual Proposition 15.

It mattered: The position got Moore the endorsement of the San Diego Education Association, the teachers union. And LaCava, generally considered the candidate to the left, did not get it.

LaCava said his wife, a teacher, gave him grief.

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